Activist Monday: Prepping for THE Debate
Posted October 12, 2015on:
Good Monday, all! It’s good to be back, albeit with a slower, sadder heart these days. RIP, Alex.
One thing that is pumping some adrenaline into my leaden veins is the thought of Hillary and the Dems together on the debate stage on Tuesday night. I have always thought Hillary is at her best when debating, as her clarity of thought and speech, depth of experience and ability to think on the fly are highlighted in this forum. While you don’t get to showcase these skills much during a campaign, relying more on pre-packaged speeches and personal charisma, you do need them every day when governing.
After all, what is the American presidency? I see it as an exercise in planetary-scale problem-solving. And who do you want in that job? My answer is, someone who thinks and speaks clearly, has the experience and proven ability to solve the problems, and who can adapt to change easily and quickly. This is why my choice in 2008 was Hillary rather than Obama, since he gave a great speech and had loads of charisma (or most people thought so), but showed no signs he had the ability, experience or inclination to solve any problems at all. And so it was…he managed to somehow adapt the Heritage Foundation’s Romneycare to a national level and take some of the worst parts out of it, but despite having a year and a half of a Congressional majority to back up any policy he wanted to push through, failed to take the initiative to address any of the nation’s larger issues. Terrorism is worse; income inequality is far worse; women’s rights to control their own reproductive destinies continue to be successfully eroded; the “jobless recovery” goes on (despite what the massaged unemployment figures state); we continue to have horrible issues with gun violence despite repeated attempts to address it politically; institutionalized racism continues to be as intractable as ever (see the many police murders of black men this year); and as the Pope has been pointing out, Washington fiddles while the planet burns. And some of the measures he favors will actually worsen the issues we’re having, such as the TPP and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Well, it’s water under the bridge now, and we can only hope that Hillary will have a chance to solve some of these problems starting on January, 2017. Meanwhile, what will happen in Tuesday night’s debate? Well, all five candidates (did you forget there were five? :-)) are prepping furiously. It truly amazes me that Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are taking themselves this seriously. But they are, Blanche, they are!
Mr. O’Malley is hoping the chance to sell his executive experience and liberal policy prescriptions, including breaking up commercial and investment banks, to a prime-time audience will give his stalled candidacy some fresh momentum.
For Mr. Sanders, the debate is an opportunity to widen his appeal and persuade skeptical Democrats that he would be a viable nominee. Aides say he needs to flesh out his big policies but also talk about incremental achievements he won during more than two decades in Congress.
“He understands he has to introduce himself to a big audience that doesn’t know about him,” said Tad Davine, Mr. Sanders’s senior strategist. “He needs to demonstrate a capacity to be president.”
To prepare, he has been meeting with policy experts and reading briefing materials, particularly on foreign affairs and military policy, but also the economy, and running through possible questions with advisers.
“I am studying hard,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview last week. “There are hundreds of possible questions that can be asked and we’re trying to figure out what they are, and how you can give a response to an important question in 30 seconds or 60 seconds.”
Yes, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders are going to have some tough going against Hillary. They are weak in all the areas she is strong in…and they aren’t Barack Obama, so they won’t be given a pass by the Democratic Party when they whiff on important questions.
Martin O’Malley has some obvious drawbacks. He was the mayor of Baltimore, who failed to address that city’s institutionalized racism in the police department – in fact, many voters blame him for increasing it. And, I’m not sure where he differs all that strongly from Hillary in terms of policy.
As for Bernie, where do I begin? Well, he is used to the Senate floor, where you can take a long time to explain your points – and, he doesn’t really have any achievements to speak of, or any important governing experience. Unfortunately this is fairly common for Senators, which is why it was important for Hillary to take the SOS job to show she could solve problems at a national and global level. It’s also why Senators don’t usually become President (again, unless you’re Barack Obama). I think Bernie’s most telling problem, though, is that he’s not a Democrat – and his policy prescriptions reflect that. He’s a Socialist, which is mostly fine by me, but it’s not exactly a majority Party in America. How can he really claim to represent all Americans, when most don’t agree with him? His idealism isn’t tempered with the pragmatism that comes with decades of in-the-trenches know-how.
So what is Our Girl doing to get ready? Polishing the titanium in her pantsuit, of course, with mock-debates and other exercises. Of primary (pun intended) importance is how she will take on Bernie, who is very popular with the Obama flank of the Party. (I refuse to call them “left-leaning,” since in 2008, they ignored the mountains of evidence that Obama wasn’t the liberal hero they claimed to want.) Here’s what she’s going to be doing on Tuesday night when comparisons to Senator Sanders come up:
Mrs. Clinton is…prepared to explain why her positions are the better choice, aides say. For instance, Mr. Sanders is proposing to make public colleges tuition-free, extending the nation’s commitment to free K-12 education through university. Mrs. Clinton wants families to contribute what they can, but would enable students to go to public colleges without taking on debt. Mrs. Clinton also might look for opportunities to spotlight areas where her record or positions are more liberal, such as gun control and immigration.
“She needs to be aggressive in providing a contrast with Sen. Sanders without going over the top,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist. “A lot of people will be tuning in to the campaign for the first time and she is going to have to show them that she is ready to fight for their vote.”
For myself, I am hoping for a respectful, yet passionate Hillary on Tuesday night. That’s the woman I know and support for the Presidency of the United States; and if all goes well, she’ll show the world everything we see when we look at her.
This is an open thread.
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